Learning environment is of critical significance to the student’s effort and motivation levels. The availability of learning resources, the physical resources and quality of teacher guidance determine student satisfaction and are fundamental in stimulating students to work hard both in class and in doing their assignments. Motivation is one of the key factors that determine the amount of effort an individual puts to a particular task. A number of developmental learning theories exist today providing crucial insights on learning and development. Traditional theories such as those espoused by Piaget, Kholberg, Vygotsky, Erickson, and others focus on the socio-emotional growth of learners as well as the development of cognitive abilities. This paper examines a personal theory of establishing the best learning environment and looks at pertinent issues surrounding the learning environment.
Learning Theory and its Importance
My learning theory stipulates that content should be meaningful and the students should be able to relate it to practical application. Students should be able to apply the knowledge they learn to practical situations. As such, education should focus on learning that is practical oriented rather than merely taking a theoretical approach. The social learning theory propounded by Bandura asserts that learning primarily occurs through observing others, thus modeling one’s behavior (Shaw, 2012). The customized learning theory advocates for learning through observation of the practical application of theories. Students should learn to apply what they learn in live environment. The learning process should focus more on gaining technical skills that can be applicable to work situation. There should be a change in teaching methods by emphasizing more on simulation, optimization and analytical techniques common in the workplace. A number of activities or programs in the high school level can enable students gain a practical approach to education. There should be planned interactions between students and practitioners to stimulate student interest.
In addition to the above, learning approaches should focus on instilling practical knowledge or skills. Teacher instruction should involve more of practical approaches such as role-play, video examples, case studies, site visits, co-operative programs, and other practical approaches. Such a learning approach can help students to easily transition from a purely academic setting to live environment setting in the workplace. Erickson’s theory of development explores how external factors influence personality development of an individual. During the adolescent stage, one must discover a personal identity. A practical-oriented education can enable students to discover their identity. The major benefits of an education that is practice-oriented relates to acquainting the students to the culture of work. Piaget’s Cognitive Theory asserts that children develop mental constructs of the world around them and later experience what he calls discrepancies between what they know and what they come to learn in their interaction with the environment (Tess & Terri, 2013). This still supports the personal theory since a practical orientation can enable students to make discoveries or build schemas of new knowledge.
Description of an effective teacher and learning environment. An effective teacher is not only good at teaching but also in other critical aspects in the teaching process such as classroom management. An effective teacher must first understand a number of factors that may influence the student’s level of understanding (Slavin, 2013). The teacher ensures that content is suitable for the level of students. An effective teacher should ensure that students are well adept in prerequisite skills required for a particular unit or course. An effective teacher is able to analyze the level of students’ understanding and identify areas where they need additional explanations or more time. Another key aspect of an effective teacher relates to motivation. An effective teacher is able to motivate students and keep them interested in learning more about a particular topic (Van Brummelen, 2009). At the end of a lesson, an effective teacher should be able determine whether students have mastered the key concepts and skills. With regard to a practical-oriented education, direct instruction can enable students understand theory and apply knowledge learnt to practice. The teacher can provide case studies or videos to enable students relate the concepts learnt to practice. An effective teacher is able to apply modern technology in teaching. Modern technology is a critical aspect of learning and development for learners. Application of modern technology is part of practical learning. Teachers should be able to tailor their instruction methods to suit the needs of students. Another important aspect is the ability to monitor student behavior. Within-class ability grouping can significantly help students improve their performance. According to Slavin (2013), this grouping method involves assigning students to particular subgroups within the class that are composed of students with similar ability levels. Within-class ability groups enables the teacher to vary the pace or level of instruction to suit the particular needs of the students within a group. As such, students are able to learn concepts that are relevant to their level of understanding. This can help in gaining practical skills. Motivation is another critical aspect in effective teaching and learning. Highly motivated students may overcome great obstacles to achieve their goals (Van Brummelen, 2009). Two types of motivation exist, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsically motivated students work hard not due to external rewards but due to the realization of the internal rewards for their efforts. Intrinsic motivation can enable students to relate theory to practice.
Learning Characteristics. Multimodalities in learning environments involve having diverse communication modes between teachers and students (Leeuwen, 2015). The learner may receive information from a variety of sources. These sources are not only restricted to verbal interactions with the teacher but also extend to other aspects such as visuals, gestures, speaking, and others. The customized learning theory stipulates that content should not only be meaningful to learners but they should also be able to apply the concepts learnt to practical work situations. As such, this theory greatly enhances the application of multimodalities in the teaching and learning process. Multimodality in learning emphasizes on practice (Leeuwen, 2015). Multimodality in learning draws inspiration from various orality theories, which emphasize strong interrelations between learners and objects in the education process.
Ability groupings are best suited for reading and math. The customized learning theory advocates for ability grouping since it helps high achievers move quickly while on the other hand, low achievers can get special help and are thus able to attain their goals too. Ability grouping may take various forms, such as ability grouped classroom assignments, regrouping for reading and mathematics, and gifted programs (Slavin, 2013). The ability grouped class assignment may not be effective since it tends to sort students into different classes depending on their performance.
Personal Reflection. My best learning style is active experimentation as described using Kolb’s learning styles model (KLS). As Kolb notes, students who prefer active experimentation are more concerned with the practicality of the learning theory (Ocepek, Bosnic, Serbec, & Rugelj, 2013). Students with higher preference of active experimentation are more likely to prefer video lectures, animations and simulations. As such, I often prefer to work things out or experiment what is taught. Practical lessons provide a great deal of information and make it easy for one to understand the key concepts. I use self-evaluation as a study skill. This involves reading concepts and then trying to understand what the concepts mean. This enables an individual to make inferences from the readings (Freahat & Al-Faoury, 2015). The best learning methodologies are active methodologies. According to Konopka, Adaime, & Mosele, (2015), active methodologies encourage students to participate fully in the learning process instead of being passive listeners in the learning process. Understanding the way one learns provides insights into the drawbacks and the strengths of the personal learning method and hence the impacts on the learning theory. This will lead to academic success by developing a customized learning theory that can help students gain a practical understanding of the concepts.
This paper proposes a learning theory that focuses on practical application of concepts learned in the classroom. For learning to be effective, the learner should be able to associate concepts or theories learnt to practical uses in the society or workplace. An effective teacher is not only good at teaching but also in other critical aspects in the teaching process such as classroom management and evaluation. Teachers should be able to modify their instruction methods to suit the needs of students
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